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Wilderness Traps – Goblin Rocket Snare

Rocket Snare - GoblinThe great outdoors is a perfect place to place traps. Whether you place the trap just outside your dungeon or somewhere on the road, wilderness traps will often take the party by surprise. Consider the following:

Goblin Rocket Snare (CR 4)

Description: When the trap is triggered, a snare tightens around the character’s ankle as a small rocket fires. The rocket drags the character for 100 feet across the countryside.

Player Description: Piles of fallen leaves obscure patches of the ground.

Trap Description: A wisp of smoke curls up from the leaves as a rope ensnares your foot.

Type mechanical; Perception 22; Disable Device 18

Trigger location; Reset none

Effect: Rocket Snare Attack
(6d6 damage + target is dragged 100ft, DC 21 Reflex Save Negates)

This type of trap can serve several purposes.  It can be a wake up call, smack in the face kind of trap that will keep the adventurers on their toes, especially if they aren’t being cautious enough while exploring the wilderness.  If anything, their characters will probably set a double watch next time!

You can also use it to set up an encounter or lead the party to the next section of an adventure. Having this trap go off just before a goblin attack can make what would otherwise be an ordinary run-of-the-mill encounter into something very exciting; a member of the party is now injured and separated from the group, with enemy combatants between her and her comrades!

After the character is dragged 100 feet, she could find a cave, a hidden temple entrance, treasure, or even a clue. Using it in this way removes the drudgery of having the characters search and miss perception checks, etc. Since it was sudden and violent, it probably won’t even feel contrived, especially if you combine it with an encounter.

In the coming weeks, there will be more wilderness traps posted. In the meantime, open up the outdoors. Turn those otherwise boring treks into memorable events.

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Deadly Traps Should Not Be Deadly

Melting crucible

Overkill, overpowered, TPK traps are fun to have in your dungeon, provided they don’t actually kill anyone. For example:

Golden Ball Trap

A huge golden ball, warm to the touch, sits in a depression atop a raised dais that has stairs all around. The ball is full of molten gold. If the ball is touched, the thin, solid outer wall breaches, spilling molten gold into the room. Once emptied, the gold can be scraped off the floor and would be quite valuable once it is solid.






Very Hard Perception, or Hard Alchemy or Dungeoneering check.


Very Hard Reflex Save or everyone in room takes APL * d6 fire damage. Each round each character takes APL * d6 fire damage on his turn if he is in the molten gold at any time during his turn. If he is flying or otherwise not touching the floor, the damage is APL * d3. The gold stays molten for 2 * APL rounds.

This is a very deadly trap. It is also very obvious. Therefore, you may ask, “What is the value of having such an obvious trap in my dungeon?”

The answer is simply the joy of overcoming such a huge obstacle and enjoying the spectacle of it. There in an inherent “wow” factor in avoiding or disarming such a deadly trap. It sends a message that you, as a GM don’t mess around, and also gives the characters a feeling of accomplishment in avoiding your attempt at killing them.

Plus, with this one, you present them with the quandary of how to remove so much treasure.

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Porcelain Doorknob


Consider the following trap:

Porcelain Doorknob Trap (CR 1)

A well-worn porcelain doorknob is in the center of the door.

Type: mechanical; Perception DC 17; Disable Device 17

Trigger touch; Reset None


The doorknob shatters, leaving sharp edges. Atk +8 melee (1d6 damage)

Sadly, this is a trap drawn from personal experience. The doorknob on my office door at home was stuck, when I forced it… well, porcelain is very sharp. Now, how can I use this in a game?

There is nothing really special or deadly about this trap; it is quite mundane. In fact, this may not even be a malicious trap, it may merely happen by chance as it did to me. This trap, though, has a purpose, especially if used early. It sets the tone.

A doorknob is a minor detail, as easily overlooked as any one of another hundred details – floorboards, tiles, bricks, etc. By turning a minor detail against the party, you enable your dungeon to become a living entity, full of rich detail and hidden hazards. The players, now alerted, will demand that extra layer of detail and attention that can bring an adventure alive.

Just be careful not to overuse it. Too many of these and the adventure will grind to a halt.

For more traps, please visit Trap-a-Day!